In the aftermath of last week’s devastating fire at Notre Dame de Paris, much of the discussion has revolved around the safety of the cathedral’s artworks and the rebuilding of the spire. But the fate of Notre Dame’s bee population, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands, was also cause for concern. Around 180,000 bees live in three hives on the lower roof of the cathedral first floor and were originally thought to have died in the fire. According to Nicolas Géant, however, who has maintained Notre Dame’s beehives since 2013, the beers are alive and well.
Although high temperatures during the blaze posed a big threat, Géant explained to The Associated Press how the smoke merely intoxicated them. “Instead of killing them,” he said, “the carbon dioxide makes them drunk, puts them to sleep.” Beekeepers actually use smoke often to sedate bees and access the hive.
In an interview with CNN, Géant said, “I was incredibly sad about Notre Dame because it’s such a beautiful building, and as a catholic it means a lot to me. But to hear there is life when it comes to the bees, that’s just wonderful.” he added, “Thank goodness the flames didn’t touch them. It’s a miracle!”
The hives were initially installed back in 2013 as part of an initiative to increase bee numbers across Paris.